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How to Use a Clarifying Shampoo to Remove Toner

We’ve all been there. You’ve freshly revitalized your hair color at the salon (or your bathroom), and your hair is as vibrant as ever, but a few days go by, and you’re not really feeling your new ‘do — and maybe even having regrets.

Fortunately, you can use a clarifying shampoo to remove toner from your hair. Read on to learn more about this cleansing shampoo and how to use it.

What Is Clarifying Shampoo?

Clarifying shampoo is a type of cleansing shampoo with a formula of potent ingredients to rid the scalp of buildup and remove styling product residue.

Surfactants like ammonium-sodium lauryl sulfate, chlorides, bromides, and cetyl-fatty alcohols are used in these shampoos to break down residue, grease, and other impurities in your hair.

If you use various styling products in your hair and your wash days are only once a week (or longer apart), you can benefit from this type of cleansing. Another reason you’d want to use a clarifying shampoo is to remove the toner in your hair after a root, highlight, or overall color touch-up.

Because of the potency of clarifying shampoos, you should use them only once or twice weekly. Depending on how often you wash your hair, you may opt to use a clarifying shampoo only once a month.

These shampoos are great for detoxing the hair, but they also strip away the natural oils on your scalp and can dry it out if used too often. Now that you know what a clarifying shampoo is and its function, let’s get into it!

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Using Clarifying Shampoo to Remove Toner

Restoring your hair to its former glory is as easy as following these six steps.

1. Select a Clarifying Shampoo

The first step is to choose the right clarifying shampoo. Since your goal is to remove the toner from your hair, you needn’t worry about purchasing one safe for color-treated hair. You can find clarifying shampoos anywhere; stores like Walmart, Target, Ulta, Sephora, and Amazon have many options.

One pro tip is selecting a clarifying shampoo you can integrate into your normal hair routine so you don’t waste money. For example, if you have curly hair, consider choosing a clarifying shampoo geared more towards that hair type.

2. Wet Your Hair

This step may seem obvious, but you’ll want to ensure you use the correct water temperature. If you typically take showers with the temperature on par with lava, you’ll need to tone it down during this process.

Using hot water to wash your hair can irritate and dry out your scalp, but cold water won’t be able to break down the buildup in your hair.

Lukewarm water (just above body temperature) is warm enough to melt the oils and residue in your hair and cool enough to prevent damage and dryness.

3. Apply the Clarifying Shampoo

Once fully saturating your hair with lukewarm water, you can apply the shampoo. Take care not just to plop the shampoo on top of your head and rub it all over. Instead, work a small amount of the shampoo into your hands and apply it directly to your scalp.

Massage the product in circular motions until there’s a good lather. Remember, your goal is to remove toner from all of your hair.

You can accomplish this by putting more shampoo into your hands and work in sections from the top down. This process ensures your hair is coated all over with the shampoo.

4. Let the Shampoo Sit

After completely covering your hair in the product, gently wring out some of the water and cover your hair with a plastic cap. Let the clarifying shampoo sit in your hair for ten minutes. After the time is up, gently rinse your hair with lukewarm or cool water until all the product is out.

5. Apply a Deep Conditioner

After rinsing the product from your hair, you’ll want to apply a deep conditioner. This step is one of the most important, as it will help prevent your hair from becoming too dry. It’s important to use a deep conditioner over a regular one.

This is because they penetrate deep into the core of your hair strands and include moisturizing and repairing ingredients. You can use a deep conditioner that’s already part of your hair routine. If you don’t have one, choose one that’s best for your hair type.

6.  Repeat Washes as Needed

Though clarifying shampoos strip all product residue, oils, and more, from your hair, you may need to repeat the washing process a few times before you begin to see the desired results.

Repeat the clarifying process as needed, but refrain from washing your hair more than twice a day, as the effects of the potent ingredients can be damaging.

Alternative Method: Clarifying Shampoo and Baking Soda

If you cannot wait for several washes with clarifying shampoo to remove the toner from your hair, you can speed up the process by adding baking soda.

Follow these steps for a fast-tracked clarifying treatment.

  1. Add half a teaspoon or so to your clarifying shampoo.
  2. Generously apply the mixture to your hair following the steps above.
  3. Cover your hair and let it sit for about ten minutes.
  4. Rinse your hair and apply a deep conditioner.

You should see results from the first wash, but it may take one or two more before you achieve your desired look.

Frequently Asked Questions

Image of a woman clarifying her hair to remove toner in a salon

Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock

Making drastic changes to your hair can be intimidating, and you want to ensure you know what you’re doing. To help you feel more confident, we’ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions about toner and clarifying shampoo.

What’s the difference between regular and deep conditioners?

Regular or daily conditioner is formulated for daily use and works by conditioning the cuticle. You should rinse out the conditioner unless it is a leave-in conditioner. The result is smooth, shiny, and frizz-free hair.

On the other hand, deep conditioners have a thick, heavy consistency and require a longer treatment time. These conditioners contain ingredients to penetrate and nourish the hair deeply and sit on the hair for ten or more minutes.

What is toner?

Toner is a product used to correct or personalize your hair color. It deposits color onto your hair to enhance or soften hues and add shine.

What’s the difference between toner and hair dye?

Stylists use toner to change the color or hue of your hair, while hair dye changes the pigment of your hair entirely through color deposits into the outer layer of the hair cuticle. The main difference between toner and hair dye is their formulation. Hair dye contains hydrogen peroxide to achieve long-lasting results that you can’t get with toner alone.

What is a clarifying shampoo?

Clarifying shampoo is a thick, potent cleansing shampoo formulated to rid your scalp of buildup and remove residue from styling products.

What’s the difference between regular and clarifying shampoo?

Regular shampoos contain ingredients like sulfates to clean the hair and scalp and are safe to use daily. Clarifying shampoos have a unique formula that breaks down buildup and grime from oils and styling product. This type of shampoo should only be used once or twice per week to avoid damaging and drying out the scalp.

How long does it take for clarifying shampoo to remove toner from hair?

While you may notice a difference in the color of your hair after just one clarifying session, it can take multiple washes over a couple of days or weeks before you achieve your desired results. It’s important to avoid washing your hair with clarifying shampoo more than once or twice a day and several days in a row to avoid dryness and damage.

Will clarifying shampoo remove toner from bleached hair?

Yes, clarifying shampoo can remove toner from normal or bleached hair. You may have to clarify several times before you achieve your desired results. Use a deep conditioner after each wash to mitigate any damage or dryness.

So, How Do You Use a Clarifying Shampoo To Remove Toner?

A clarifying shampoo’s main purpose is to penetrate deeply and rid the scalp of buildup and residue leftover from styling products. You can also use it to strip toner and lessen the effects of hair dye.

You can successfully remove that unwanted or unflattering toner and restore your hair to its natural hue by performing the clarifying process several times.

Because of the powerful surfactants in clarifying shampoo, limiting the number of washes per day and how often you clarify is imperative. Use a deep conditioner after each wash to prevent damage and dryness to the scalp and hair.

Overall, using a clarifying shampoo to remove toner from your hair is a quick and effective (and cheap) way to restore your hair to its original glory.  Happy clarifying!